As we delve deeper into March, warm weather will finally reach the cold and desperate parts of the U.S. That means there is no better time for outdoor enthusiasts to visit some of their favorite national parks all across the nation.
One of which is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are three separate entrances to the park located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Townsend, Tennessee, and Cherokee, North Carolina. From beautiful and lush forests to gorgeous wildflowers to Clingmans Dome to gorgeous waterfalls, the mountains have a lot to offer people.
Before you pack your backpacking or camping gear for a visit, here’s what you should know first.
According to WHNT, front country campgrounds are in 10 different locations within the park. Both Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds are open year-round. The other campgrounds, however, are only open from spring until late fall.
Elkmont opens on March 11 and closes on November 27. Meanwhile, Deep Creek, Cosby, Cataloochee, and Big Creek are all open starting on April 15 until October 30. Abrams Creek opens on April 29 and Balsam Mountain opens on May 13. The official date for Look Rock has not been determined at this time.
If you’re planning on going group camping, there are certain places designated for groups of seven or more people to camp out together. Smokemont opens on May 13 and Elkmont on April 29. Cades Cove is March 11. As for Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, and Deep Creek, those are all April 15.
The Great Smoky Mountains have a lot more to offer than just camping, too. Whether it’s horse camps, picnicking, or even auto-touring, there are different dates for all those activities.
New App for Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Well, if you’re planning on going hiking or camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, be sure to have your phone with you. Not only for obvious survival and communication reasons but there is also an amazing app that could heighten your overall experience this spring.
A quick fun fact is that this national park is actually home to more species than any other national park in the country. There are tens of thousands of species that call the dense forests and expansive waters home. In fact, there are 77 newly discovered species as well.
A new app will allow people visiting the park to help catalog all these species, new and old.
“We just launched a program called ‘Smokies Most Wanted,’ which is using iNaturalist and trying to crowd-source the 14 million visitors to help us collect data as they’re walking around the park. The 77 came from citizen observations using iNaturalist,” Discover Life in America executive director Todd Witcher said to News Channel 9.
By helping to catalog, people can also help conserve these species. The park needs 30 observations for each species.